News: Singapore’s national Budget to include ‘strong’ economic package, says Wong

Feb 13, 2020

With the impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 outbreak on Singapore’s trade-reliant economy expected to be worse compared to the SARS pandemic in 2003, the city-state’s national Budget, which is set to be unveiled next week, will include a “strong” economic package to mitigate the economic fallout.`

“I think you can well anticipate a larger impact overall which will then have a knock-on impact on Singapore too,” said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who also co-chairs the multi-ministry task force created to coordinate the response of Singapore to the virus outbreak, in an interview with Bloomberg News.

“We are preparing for that, we are anticipating that and that’s why we will announce what the appropriate measures” are in the national Budget, which will be revealed on 18 February.

The increased economic threat can be attributed to various reasons, like China’s economy being much larger today and it being more service- and consumption-oriented, explained Wong.

However, he declined to reveal the package’s size or whether it will be higher than the $230 million relief package provided during the 2003 Sars crisis, which also battered the city-state’s economy back then, reported Bloomberg.

The Sars relief package included property tax rebates as well as a bridging loan programme for small- and medium-sized companies to help them deal with short-term cash-flow issues.

Aside from specific sectors such as hospitality and tourism that have already weakened, Wong expects the broader knock-on effect to be “quite severe”. He noted that a hit on China’s economy will affect the global economy, with Singapore surely impacted.

“We are preparing for a strong package in the coming budget to help our companies as well as to help workers stay in their jobs,” said Wong.

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